Gifts That Give Back

The holidays are in full swing which means it’s time to exchange presents with the ones you love the most. If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for someone in your life, consider finding a gift that not only will bring a smile to your loved one but will give back to noteworthy causes as well.

For the animal lover: AnimalGift.org

If you have a friend who just loves animals big and small, then this is the perfect gift for her! Help animals in need this holiday season by making a donation in their name to the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Gifts for Animals program. Sending support in your friend’s name will help to protect endangered animals and provide emergency relief to animals in need such as dogs, cats, elephants and more.

For the beauty lover: Lush Charity Pot

This lotion does a lot of good not only for your skin but the environment as well. Made of a cocoa butter base, this lotion contains ingredients from the SLush Fund projects. With the purchase of every Charity Pot, 100% of the price (minus the taxes) are donated to small, grassroots organizations that help in the areas of animal welfare and environmental conservation.

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For the Baby: Cuddle and Kind

Every baby needs a cuddly friend! The duo behind these hand-knit dolls created them because they’re a family of five that are on a mission to feed children in need. For every doll sold, 10 meals are provided to children in North America and around the world. Plus, each doll is handmade by women artisans in Peru, making each doll unique and providing the female artisans with a sustainable, fair trade income.

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For the man in your life: Conscious Step Socks

Give the gift of style to the favorite guy in your life with a pair of socks. Each pair is designed to match a specific cause that helps an issue of global concern. Hunger, literacy and HIV are among some of the nonprofit organizations that benefit from each purchase.

For your bestie: Alex and Ani Charity by Design Bracelet

Show your bestie love and support by gifting her one of these stylish bracelets. Each of the Charity by Design bracelets by Alex and Ani support a variety of causes from Best Buddies International to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

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For the #girlboss: Tory Burch Foundation Seed Box

Tory Burch is best known for her timeless accessories including shoes and purses. This holiday season, she takes it a step further and is showcasing the talents of fellow female entrepreneurs with this holiday box. Featuring a curated selection of products from seven women entrepreneurs, including a necklace and a clutch, the proceeds from this box benefit female business leaders with financial support and mentorship.

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And if you’re looking for a easy way to give back this holiday season while you’re out and about, consider downloading the TAGG app and choosing to support the Junior League of Omaha! By eating at your favorite restaurants and shopping at participating businesses, you’re helping to support the local community.

All That Glitters Is the (Newly Redesigned) Column

Allison Hardy  the Column co-editor

Ladies, I’m conducting a poll. Who here keeps glitter around in their homes? While I haven’t touched the stuff since elementary school, I recently learned that glitter is a staple at the homes of League members Sara Huse, Katie Triplett and Jennifer Peters. I also learned that it’s quite difficult to photograph.

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To introduce some major (read: incredible) changes we’ve made to to the League’s magazine, we, the editorial staff of the Column, thought it would be fun to do a fall photo shoot with our incredibly talented Social Media Coordinator, Jillian Humphries. For the finale, we thought we’d throw some red glitter up in the air and would get some great shots of it sparkling in the September sunshine. Long story short: what we got, in addition to these shots, was glitter everywhere – eyes, hair and covering our bodies. I’m quite sure my pillow is still sparkling.

When you try something new, you take risks with the hope that they are outweighed by the reward. This year’s Communications Committee, headed by our fearless, visionary leaders Communication Committee Chair Katie Triplett and Vice Chair Jennifer Peters, and armed with our ambitious Graphic Designer Sara Huse, decided to take the plunge to provide you, our readers of the Column, with a fresh new look. To that end, we’ve moved the Column to a full color, 20-page, magazine-like publication to keep you updated with what’s happening in the League. We’re putting a new spin on stories to make them more engaging and are including more attention-grabbing photos and infographics.

While it’s not entirely clear if our glitter photoshoot passed the risk-reward test (but hey, we had fun), we think you’ll agree that the redesign of the Column has. We invite you to check out our new style and weigh in with your comments. The Fall edition of the Column will be hitting mailboxes in early December.

For now, check out some of the fun outtakes from our sparkling photo shoot.

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What To Wear To Big Red Block Party 2016

Back-packs, bell sleeves and booties! Fall fashions are upon us, and we’re taking a look at some of the fun ways you can wear the latest trends for this year’s “blackout” themed Big Red Block Party on November 5th!

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Now that you’ve online shopped your way to a killer new outfit (or two), you need a place to wear it! Buy your ticket for Big Red Block Party today!

Junior League of Omaha Communications Committee Fall Favorites

Leaves are changing and the flavors are changing to all things pumpkin spice. You know what that means: fall is officially here! To share in the excitement of the changing of the seasons, we asked our Communications Committee to share some of the things that make them look forward to the fall season each year.

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Megan, Communications Coordinator for A Book of My Own, says that fall is her favorite time of year! The leaves are changing to their most beautiful oranges and burgundies. The crisp, cool breeze is in the air. A delightful warm latte in hand. And to top things off, a chic blanket scarf and cognac, knee-high boots to complete her cozy outfit.

One of the fall memories that Brandie, Communications Coordinator for Project Hope Pack, has is growing up in the picturesque mountains of North Carolina where the fall season meant driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway to view the beautiful changing leaves.

FASHION

The Communications Committee can’t get enough of all of the fall fashion. Bring on the scarves and flannel shirts!

  • Our social media guru Jillian loves pairing a scarf with a cute long sleeve or quarter sleeve dress and booties!
  • Communications Chair, Katie, just LOVES fall fashion! From cable-knit sweaters to soft leather boots to crisp capes to textured layers, autumn style is her favorite!
  • bRUNch 5K Communications Coordinator, Britt, is a big fan of wearing vests. Her favorite is from J Crew because you can throw it on over any outfit when the weather gets cooler.

OUTDOORS & EVENTS

Enjoying the crisp, cool days outdoors is also a fall favorite among some of the ladies along with all of the fun traditions that the season brings.

  • Sierra, Communications Coordinator for Cookbook, is a big fan of walking to Aromas Coffee and enjoying a warm drink and one of their delicious cinnamon rolls on the patio!
  • Apple Picking at her family’s farm is a favorite thing to do for Lakelyn, who is the Communications Coordinator for Done in a Day. Then, she loves to bake all sorts of yummy apple dishes!
  • Megan, the Column Editor, always watches Practical Magic once it gets close to Halloween. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as witches dressed in amazing late 90s fashion PLUS a stellar soundtrack with lots of Stevie Nicks? Yes please.
  • Our Website Editor, Sarah, especially loves Thanksgiving. Specifically, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. She gets together with her high school friends the night before Thanksgiving to have dinner and catch up.

HOME DECOR

Bringing the aroma of all things pumpkin and spice indoors is also another favorite. A lot of the Communications ladies are crazy about fall candles!

  • Our Communications Vice Chair, Jennifer, says Fall is her favorite time of the year. Starting in July, she counts down the days until she can get out her fall scented candles… Kitchen Spice from Yankee Candle is her favorite. The name doesn’t scream fall, but once you smell it, you know scarf and boot season is upon us (which is another great aspect of fall, right?!)
  • For American Girl Fashion Show Communications Coordinator, Alysia, nothing christens fall like new candles. Warm hues of crimson and patchouli compliment the season perfectly! Her favorite candles for welcoming in the season are from LAFCO, and her absolutely favorite one this fall is Myrrh Cassis. And if you’re familiar with LAFCO their scents are fitting to areas of the home. This scent is appropriately named Boudoir. Nowhere she’d rather be on a cozy fall day than in some pajamas, hot cup of tea, and snuggled up in bed!
  • Assistant Blog Editor, Katy, loves the local candle maker wax buffalo (out of Lincoln, NE). They have a new fall collection that she can’t wait to get her hands on. In Omaha, you can find wax buffalo at Everbloom in the Loveland shopping center (and they will donate 5% of your purchase back to Junior League through TAGG).

 

Top five ways to maximize social media for your event both before and after!

Planning an event can be stressful. You spend months figuring out every detail, from venue to food to programming to donor recognition. So the last thing on your radar may be your social media plan of action. Never fear, here are our top five ways to maximize social media for your event both before and after!

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  1. Facebook Event Pages – Talk about a one-stop shop! Facebook event pages allow you to do so much, for instance: share time, date and location, ticket link, gather a head count, allow people to continue to invite their friends, give updates to attendees, share donation links to those who may be out of town and not be able to attend themselves, tag sponsors… the list goes on.  

We create a Facebook event pages for almost all League events open to the public.

  1. Instagram & Facebook Ads – Does your event need participants? Make a Facebook Advert –  it lends itself over to Instagram as well. You can manage this from a business or personal page. Just head over to your Ad Manager page to get started. Not sure where that is? On the left bar of your Facebook home page, at the very bottom is a button that says “CREATE” with Advert, Page, Group, Event, etc. below it.

We used Facebook & Instagram Adverts to advertise registration for our American Girl Fashion Show.

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  1. Live tweet your events – Now you don’t have to go all news reporter and we won’t expect your AP Style to be on point, so don’t be shy. Prior to the event, ticket links can be shared along with raffle prizes and auction items. Add to that showcasing and thanking sponsors via Twitter which can help get your tweets shared fast! Then, during the event you can share your event hashtag like #BRBP2016 (this should be used in all tweets prior to event as well) with attendees and give incentives for tweeting, or even have a live stream of tweets being shared at the event. Don’t forget to give shout outs during the event! Live tweeting allows social media users who follow your guests to see the fun during and after the event.

We love sharing details about our events and community partners via Twitter before and after events for the League.

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  1. Instagram videos & Boomerang – Photos can capture a moment, but video & boomerang tell a story! Log into Instagram and you can capture or upload videos you’ve already taken. (We always recommend horizontal for Instagram. Leave the vertical videos for Snapchat.) Or, create a Boomerang! What’s a Boomerang, you ask? It’s Instagram’s take on stop-motion and it often gets a lot of likes (which will turn into follows!) Open Instagram, click on the photo button, look for the infinity symbol and you will be taken to the Boomerang app.

This year Big Red Block Party has made quite the impression with their Boomerang videos.

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  1. Snapchat Geofilters – Who doesn’t love a good filter? Am I right ladies? Some may say oh, it’s just a filter for those attending your event, but trust me it goes WAY beyond that. How many people are going to see their friends on Snapchat that attend your event and want to know how they can attend next year? Or, join the organization that put on the event? A LOT. Everyone wants to a part of something fun and Snapchat is a way to touch an audience you may not have realized you could reach. Head over to Snapchat.com to create or upload your filter. You choose where, when and how long your filter lives with a corresponding cost and after a day or so, BOOM, it’s approved and your guests are ready to get your Snap on. Even better, it won’t break your budget!

The league has created filters for several upcoming events, the American Girl Show this weekend for instance! Prepare for the cuteness.
And there you have it. These are five amazing options, but don’t be afraid to get a little out of the box. Social media is all about having fun and being creative.

Special thanks to Jillian Humphries, Junior League of Omaha Social Media Coordinator, for sharing these tips!

Great Books For Great Kids

Did you know that reading skills are the greatest single predictor of future academic success?* Yet, 16% of people in the Omaha area are functionally illiterate. This means they struggle getting through the day because they can’t read well enough to order from a menu, fill out a job application, or help their kids with homework.** Nationally, on average, children in middle-income neighborhoods have 13 books per child. In contrast, for low-income children there is an estimated 1 book for every 300 children.

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The Junior League of Omaha has never hesitated to step up and help out with what the community needs. Through its own community project, A Book of My Own (ABOMO), the Junior League of Omaha has been helping to promote literacy and provide books at home to under-served children ages 0-18. Throughout the year, new and gently-used books are collected and ABOMO partners with community organizations such as schools, churches, Heartland Family Service, and the Boys and Girls Club to distribute books to children in need. Since 2011, ABOMO has distributed over 80,000 books in the Omaha community and worked with more than 70 community partners.img_9793

Recently, the Junior League of Omaha partnered with Runza® Restaurants for the 14th annual Great Books for Great Kids fundraiser. The funds collected benefited the Junior League of Omaha’s A Book of My Own community project. The League’s Board of Directors and project committee members staffed each of the 15 Runza locations to provide members of the community more information about the Great Books for Great Kids event as well as general information about the league. The event was a great success again this year and more than $5,000 was raised for the community project. ABOMO plans on using the funds to purchase books for upcoming distributions.

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If you are looking to give back and want to contribute to the community project, here are a variety of ways that you can donate to ABOMO.

  1. Donate books. A Book of My Own needs new and gently-used books. Donation bins are located at the following locations:

Back and Neck Care Center, 2055 N. 156th Street, Omaha, NE

Ridgeview Animal Hospital, 18142 Wright Street, Omaha, NE

Walnut Creek Veterinary Clinic, 96th and HWY 370, Papillion, NE

Roots and Wings, Countryside Village, 8712 Pacific Street, Omaha, NE

Bare Body Shop, Rockbrook Village, 10811 Prairie Brook Road, Omaha, NE

You can also contact the Junior League of Omaha office at 402.493.8818 or book@jlomaha.org to schedule a drop-off appointment. If you donate gently-used books, we would appreciate books that are in saleable condition with no torn cover, ripped pages or chewed marks. Also, we do not distribute books that have been wet or have mold or mildew.

  1. Donate money. 100% of monetary donations are used to purchase new books for the project. Donations can be sent to the Junior League of Omaha office.
  2. Host a book drive. Plan and host a book drive at your school, church or office. Contact the Junior League of Omaha office at 402.493.8818 or book@jlomaha.org for further information.
  3. Volunteer. Volunteers are needed to sort and prepare books for distribution. Contact the Junior League of Omaha office at 402.493.8818 or book@jlomaha.org for volunteer opportunities.

Visit the Junior League of Omaha’s Facebook and Instagram page, or follow the #JLOmaha to see more of this successful event. Special thank you to the A Book of My Own committee members who make this project successful: Liz Akert, Katie Anderson, Megan Black, Becca Bode, Meghan Bothe, Anne Bowen, Sarah Carse, Kristyn Chapman, Beverly Gorman, Erica Goven, Miranda Griffiths, Sara Hanke, Becky Heckman, Elizabeth Jamrog, Jessica Kozel, Steffanie Luteran, Katie Martens, Meghan McClain, Erica McDonald, Maria Michaelis, Kristi Mitchell, Summer Nabity, Kimberly Nolan, Taylor Pugh, Nicole Seckman, Tina Spatz, Jessica Thompson, and Lisa Tonjes Moritz.

*National Assessment of Educational Progress

**Literacy Center of the Midlands

JLO Summer Wrap-Up

In just a few days, the Junior League of Omaha will be kicking off its 98th year with the first General Membership Meeting. It has been a busy summer for our League filled with training sessions, committees kicking off their projects and fundraisers and meetings to gear up for the upcoming year.

Many of our members have already been hard at work throughout the summer donating their time to various projects. In July, many members volunteered at the Color Run during packet pick-up and on race day at water and color stations throughout the race course.

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Done-In-A-Day partnered with FITGirl, Inc. and provided volunteers for the FITGirl Empowerment Camp for girls ages 8-14. Junior League of Omaha members were assigned a group of girls and assisted them through activities during the day that included focusing on fitness, good eating choices and group team building activities.

Project shifts have also started with volunteers sorting books for A Book Of My Own and getting backpacks ready for distribution through Project Hope Pack. In addition to all of the volunteer opportunities for our Active Members, the League is also excited to welcome 92 New Members to our organization this year.

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Each year, the incoming President is tasked with choosing a theme for the League year. For 2016-2017, our President, Chaley Chandler, selected the theme of “Giving Back is Always in Style.” Giving back is just one part of the mission of The Junior League of Omaha and voluntarism has always been second nature to our members. All of our League Members share many different strengths that make make an impact on each other and our actions. Our members gain training and knowledge from both our General and Committee meetings, and also from each other. Supporting other League Members, learning from each other and giving back to one another are all of the keys we’ll need to have a successful year. Our mission and our relentless act of giving back to the community and to each other will always be in style! You’ll be seeing this year’s logo all year long to help serve as a reminder of the one goal we all are working towards.

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As fall rapidly approaches, there’s even more exciting things to look forward to beginning with Barn Bash on September 9th. There will be salsa and guacamole tasting, a nacho bar and BINGO! The League will also be hosting the American Girl Fashion Show Grand Finale on October 8th and 9th at Shadow Ridge Country Club. Please join other League Members as we commemorate the Fashion Show and how it has created shining stars out of both children and adults. Rounding out the season is the seventh annual Big Red Block Party on November 5th. Watch the Nebraska vs. Ohio State football game on multiple big screen TVs while enjoying tailgate-themed faire and the opportunity to bid on a wide variety of silent auction items. Finally, Our Cookbook Committee is also hard at work and needs your submissions. If you have any great recipes to share, please visit www.JLOCookbook.com.

Cooking for a Crowd

Cooking for 20 can be tricky, but every month Junior League of Omaha Board of Directors take on the challenge of providing dinner for a monthly Board meeting. When it came time for New Member Chair Bethany Banister and Communications Chair Melissa Carlberg to take their turn, they were confident the Junior League’s Toast to Omaha cookbook would be the perfect resource – and would build excitement for the upcoming release of the League’s new cookbook, to be released in conjunction with our 100th anniversary in 2019.

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“We thought soup would be a crowd-pleaser, and also figured it’d be fairly easy to transport and keep warm,” says Melissa. “Bethany and I got together, picked out some recipes that looked delicious and started planning a couple weeks before the meeting.”

Melissa made the following soup recipes:

  • Curried Pumpkin Soup, page 49
  • Upsteam Brewing Company’s Smoked Gouda Beer Soup, page 59
  • Italian Vegetable soup, page 55

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For a side, Bethany chose Ron’s Wheatfield Cornbread, page 182, and for dessert, gave Very Rich Everything Bars, page 214, a try.

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“The cornbread was super easy,” says Bethany. “I do have a suggestion for the dessert, though. Use creamy peanut butter instead of crunchy for both the base and the fudge topping. I also used salted nuts, even though the recipe called for unsalted. It seemed to cut down the richness a little!”

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Final consensus? Everything was a hit! The sausage soup was nearly gone and the beer cheese soup reheated wonderfully.  

“The Italian vegetable soup was a fairly quick, easy recipe and you can even save some time by eliminating the chopping and buying frozen spinach and carrots,” says Melissa. “I’d definitely make it again. In fact, I’d make them all again. I especially liked the Upstream beer cheese soup. I used a cheddar to supplement the Gouda, simply because it was a bit more economical for a double batch.”

Both Bethany and Melissa agree that the dinner was a success; board members all tasted several Toast to Omaha recipes for the first time and everyone seemed excited to make them again! Hopefully, it got members thinking about what they can submit for the next Junior League of Omaha cookbook!

The Cookbook Committee is currently planning for the upcoming edition, A Century of Serving, and looks forward to hosting tasting parties beginning this summer to choose the entries for the anniversary cookbook. Be on the lookout for recipes you’d be interested in submitting – and if you’d like one of the special edition Junior League of Omaha aprons, orders will be available soon at jlomaha.org.

Tip the Fundraising Scale with TAGG by Guest Blogger Katy Spratte

The Junior League of Omaha supports this vibrant community through countless volunteer hours, amazing fundraisers, and women and child-focused projects and scholarships. As a first year active in the League, I am thrilled to be able to present a great new fundraising option for our membership. That opportunity is through a local start up, called Together A Greater Good (TAGG). TAGG is an app that empowers users to support local nonprofits just by visiting participating businesses. That’s right, visit a participating business, TAGG a purchase, and the business will donate 5 percent of your purchase to the cause of your choice.

During the first month of being live on TAGG, the Junior League of Omaha has already raised $16.79. Six active league members have TAGGed so far, and I’m really excited to see what our whole group can accomplish. Those who have TAGGed have done so at Blue Sushi, Plank Seafood & Provisions, Beansmith Coffee Roasters, Railcar Modern American Kitchen, Bliss Boutique, Newman’s Pasta Cafe, Everbloom Floral & Gift, and Smoothie King. There are about 130 local businesses that are participating partners in TAGG, and will donate to causes of your choice. Additionally, the first $1,000 raised each month through the app is automatically matched by the 88 Restaurant Group, so that 5 percent donation is actually 10 percent at the beginning go the month.

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 It’s easy to see how simply frequenting TAGG businesses, that many of us already visit, can really add up to major funds for a worthwhile organization. Please consider downloading “Together A Greater Good” app today, and choosing to support the Junior League of Omaha without spending an extra dime. TAGGing a purchase takes about 30 seconds, watch this video tutorial. Start TAGGing today!
–Katy Spratte

Ladies Who bRUNch

The Junior League of Omaha is hosting a new fundraiser this year and planning committee members are passionate. This April, the League will host a 5K fun run that combines two events that League members just love: running and brunching. The concept is pretty simple, really: run 3.1 miles, eat brunch, support the League’s child-minded community projects. And everyone’s invited. We asked the committee members what keeps them running.

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Lisa Tronchetti will tell you she is an indoor runner. She remembers doing a 5K before, but lately she hasn’t made it past the one mile mark. Even though her distance has shortened, she keeps plugging away, because she has motivation. “I run to stay healthy and prevent Type II Diabetes,” she says. “Type II Diabetes is common for women in my family as they grow older and my hope is that by living a healthy lifestyle NOW with a healthy diet and a regular exercise schedule that includes a little running, I will greatly delay or prevent any onset of Type II Diabetes in my own health,” Lisa says. When the Junior League of Omaha announced a 5K run this spring, Lisa saw an opportunity to volunteer and get back on a training regimen. “I’m in my favorite Athleta pants and listening to the second season of Serial while I train,” she says. 

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It took Stacey Sellers a little time to warm up to the idea of loving a run. “I started running in middle school when I started cheer and dance, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I actually started to enjoy it,” she says. “Living in Charleston, SC at the time, the scenery and weather were perfect; and running outside was a must!” Stacey runs for enjoyment, opting out of a music playlist, no formal training program and no set distances. There is one thing she does commit to, a lacrosse ball she uses to massage her muscles after good run. 

Colby Jensen prefers to run with a crew. “When I run with friends, we talk about our days, what’s new in our lives, etc. so no music is needed,” she says. Her friends and the training program she found with a quick Google search keep her focused when training for half marathons. “I train with friends to hold myself accountable and make the longer runs seem easier,” she says. But when no one is around, she’ll crank up a good Pandora station Jock Jams, Pop & Hip Hop Power Workout, 2000s Hip Hop – to name a few. Her Nike+ training app keeps her motivated when she runs on her own.

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Pictured League Members: Lauren Hellman, bRUNch 5k committee, Allie Bruening, and Colby Jensen, bRUNch 5k committee.

 

Lauren Hellman might just go crazy if she doesn’t hit the pavement. She takes all her frustrations and stress of the day out on the wide open road. Often she will bring her dog along for company. She uses this time to catch up on her favorite podcasts. When weather forces Lauren to run on a treadmill, she might deviate slightly from the podcasts and opt for some Taylor Swift. “My favorite item to have on a run with me is a great pair for shoes,” she says. Typically she gets her shoes from Altra Running. But she recently picked up a pair from Skora Running. “They may become my new favorite,” Lauren says. 

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Pictured League Members: Lauren Hellman, bRUNch 5k committee, Allie Bruening, and Colby Jensen, bRUNch 5k committee.

No matter what your running style- or even if you’re not a runner- Lauren, Colby, Stacy and Lisa agree that there’s a place for you at the April 16 bRUNch 5K. Families are welcome to bring their kids for a 1K fun walk around Turner Park and if you’re not up for racing, you can purchase a ticket to the after-run brunch. Registration information is now available on jlomaha.org. We can’t wait to see you there!